Every year on September 30, Canadians wear orange shirts in recognition of all the First Nations, Inuit and Métis children who attended residential schools. Across the country, schools, businesses, churches and other community groups participate in Orange Shirt Day to continue raising awareness about residential schools and to show their support for the message that every child matters.
Orange Shirt Day was inspired by Phyllis Webstad’s story. When Phyllis was six years old, she was taken to residential school wearing a shiny orange shirt that her grandmother bought for her. When she arrived at the school, her shirt was taken from her and she never saw it again. Phyllis writes: “I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine! The colour orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing.”
The residential school system caused a legacy of harm that is still affecting Indigenous families today. On Monday, September 30, wear an orange shirt to honour Survivors and stand in solidarity with Indigenous communities and everyone working to support healing and reconciliation.
Learn more about Orange Shirt Day at orangeshirtday.org.
A Prayer for Orange Shirt Day
Loving and just God,
You created us in your image and you love all your children. In humility, we pray that you shape our hearts and minds to pursue right relationships, as you call us to do.
On this day of remembering, mourning and re-commitment we recall the children who were separated from their families and taken to residential schools. And we remember all the children who were forced to stop speaking their Indigenous languages; who were told their cultures were wrong; who were taken from and raised away from the love and care of their families and communities. We remember with deep sorrow the many children who were abused and the many who died and never made it home.
We are grateful for the strength of Survivors who brought the truth of the harm of these schools to light, though it is a truth they never should have had to bear. Keep us mindful of their words and of the stories of what was done to them and mindful of your loving commandments. Strengthen us to work to ensure that all children are treated with dignity and respect. We repent of The Presbyterian Church in Canada’s part in the harm done to children. We pray for healing for the families who experienced and continue to experience the trauma of residential schools. Just and healing God, we ask you show us the path of reconciliation, and pray for the Spirit’s guidance to help us walk it well.
In Christ’s name we pray,